Day 122: A King’s Prayer

2 Samuel 21-22; Psalm 18

Key Verses

Psalm 18:46-50
The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation—
the God who gave me vengeance
and subdued peoples under me,
who delivered me from my enemies;
yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you rescued me from the man of violence.
For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
and sing to your name.
Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever.

Psalm 18 is adapted from David’s personal prayer recorded in 2 Samuel 22. Therefore, the two chapters are almost identical.

David’s prayer reveals both a deep personal relationship with God as well as an understanding of God’s character and ways. It is encouraging to note that despite David’s great sin, his repentance and dependence on God have kept him close to the Almighty.

God is merciful and will accept the penitent sinner who calls on Him in faith…just as He accepted David.

David understood that the Kingship was an undeserved gift of God. He was absolutely dependent on God for deliverance from his enemies, and he gave God all the credit for his victories.

David knew that he experienced all of life directly from the hand of God. We are no different. We also must depend on God for all of our earthly successes – and for the will to persevere through our failures. Ultimately, we should cry out with David…

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies (Psalm 18:1-3).

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Day 120: Our Only Hope

2 Samuel 17-18; Psalm 63

Key Verses

Psalm 63:1
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you.

Psalm 63:6-8
…when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

There are times in life when it is so hard and the pain is so overwhelming, that God is the only sure hope in your life. When David wrote Psalm 63, he needed relief from the relentlessness of his circumstances. Many scholars believe he wrote this Psalm in the midst of fleeing from Absalom. Whether or not this is the case, Psalm 63 depicts a desperateness that would have characterized David during this time in his life.

These chapters in 2 Samuel illustrate God’s gracious provision for David. David was so broken that he truly did not have the means to help himself. God provided a spy network of faithful allies to warn David of Absalom’s plans. And God strengthened David’s army’s resolve to protect him from being killed in battle. Even Joab, David’s commander, understood better than David, the threat that Absalom posed and killed Absalom in spite of David’s fatherly wishes.

Do you see David’s complete brokenness? I sense that he knows that his sin has caused all of this turmoil – and the weight of the burden has become too much. David’s grief at the end of Chapter 18 is magnified by the unresolved nature of his relationship with Absalom. David had no chance to make things right with his son. The regret is all-consuming.

Even in such dark and difficult circumstances, we have a hope to which we can cling. David knew this Hope and I believe this Hope carried him through his darkest nights.

Day 119: No Escape

2 Samuel 15-16; Psalm 3

Key Verses

Psalm 3:5-6
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.

David has become a broken man. He is broken by his own sin and the turmoil of his family. He is broken by the treachery of his son, Absalom. His brokenness has made him tired, and he doesn’t fight against his circumstances but accepts them from God’s hand.

At the end of today’s reading, we see Nathan’s prophesy fulfilled as Absalom sets up a tent on the roof of David’s house and sleeps with David’s concubines. You never know… it might have been the same roof from which David lusted over Bathsheba. Prophesy is always understood best through the eyes of hindsight. Read again Nathan’s prophesy to David from 2 Samuel 12. God’s word is powerful and true!

Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” (2 Samuel 12:9-12)

What do we learn about God from this portion of Scripture?

In spite of our sin, God is gracious. God does not take the kingship away from David and continues to work on his behalf. God even chooses Solomon, the son of Bathsheba, to succeed David as King – preserving David’s family line in the kingship of Israel.

But. David can not escape from the consequences of his sin. These consequences are severe and it is hard to read about the mighty David being so defeated by the far-reaching effects of his sin.

Sin is serious. Deadly serious, in fact. We need to be rescued from its grasp. We need Jesus.

Day 117: Sin, Repentance and Grace

2 Samuel 10-12; Psalm 51

Key Verses

2 Samuel 11:13-15
David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” Then Nathan went to his house.

Psalm 51:3-4
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight (Psalm 51:3-4).

Chapter 10 begins the war against the Ammonites. And nestled in this story of war… is David’s great sin.

It is obvious from 11:1 that David was lounging at home when he should have been at war with Joab (the commander of his army). Verse 2 even begins, “David arose from his couch…” This is a very different David than the one that was fleeing from Saul and scrounging for food with his vagabond army in the wilderness. David has grown accustomed to leisure and luxury. Not only has he become lazy physically, but the ease of his life has lulled him to sleep spiritually as well.

This is the only explanation for how David, a man after God’s own heart, could have slipped so far away from God’s ways that he would covet, commit adultery, and then cover it all up with murder.

When Nathan confronts David with his gross sin, David repents. Psalm 51 is David’s cry for mercy…

God is gracious to David and spares his life. But there will be consequences. Horrible consequences that we will read over the next few days.

Mysteriously, God brings good out of the ashes… through Solomon – son of Bathsheba and in the family line of Christ – he will be the King of Israel at its height!

Day 116: The Glory Days!

2 Samuel 7-9; Psalm 60

Key Verses

2 Samuel 7:8-10; 12-13; 16
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. …I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.

The Davidic Covenant. It is the promise that God will establish David’s throne forever. It does not replace the Abrahamic covenant – but only clarifies it!

David’s response to God’s promises was overwhelming gratitude. David’s prayer recorded in the last half of Chapter 7 is a model of humility and praise. And then we read of the glory of David’s reign…. Chapter 8 chronicles his victories in battle (and we surmise from Psalm 60 that David never presumed upon the Lord’s blessing – but stayed humble and dependent on His help). Chapter 9 describes his respect for Saul’s house as he treats Jonathan’s son as his own.

This is the epitome of godly leadership. David’s attributes of complete dependence on God plus true humility somehow combine to create a fierce warrior and a just leader. His person has been remarkable so far, but, unfortunately, we are about to see a sad turn in David.

Remember how God used the crucible of hardship to mold David’s character? Now that David is enjoying the benefits of blessing, he will be tempted to fall – and fall he does. But we’ll talk about that tomorrow!

Day 110: A Purpose for Pain

1 Samuel 23-24; Psalm 54; Luke 17:1-19

Key Verses

1 Samuel 24:17-20
[Saul] said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.

Humility and Gratitude. They are the key to persevering through hardship. If we humbly consider ourselves unworthy servants, as Jesus teaches in Luke 17:7-10, we will be doubly grateful for any blessing that God gives. A perfect example of this principle is the story of the 10 lepers recorded in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus healed 10 lepers, but only one returned to thank him… and he was a Samaritan. Samaritans were traditionally despised by the Jews. Because of his humble position, the Samaritan was more grateful for Jesus’ gracious healing. Humility multiplies Gratitude.

These characteristics are evident in David from today’s reading from 1 Samuel. David had a chance to kill Saul, but his reverence for God would not allow him to strike the Lord’s anointed king. Instead of reveling in the opportunity to kill his oppressor, David humbled himself before Saul and submitted to the will of God.

Both David and the leprous Samaritan lived in treacherous circumstances. But God used their suffering to humble each man and bring about godly character. God’s ways are mysterious, but they are always good. When our lives take a hard turn, it is tempting to shake our fists in anger at God for allowing hardship into our lives. But we should trust that God has a purpose for our pain…to break down our self-reliance so that we might walk more closely with the Savior and mold us more into the likeness of Jesus. As we allow God to humble us through our circumstances, David’s words in Psalm 54 become our anthem…

Behold, God is my helper;
the Lord is the upholder of my life (Psalm 54:4).

Day 109: The righteous will prosper…eventually!

1 Samuel 22:6-23; Psalm 52; Luke 16

Key Verses

Luke 16:15
And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

Psalm 52:9
“I will thank you forever,
because you have done it.
I will wait for your name, for it is good,
in the presence of the godly.”

As David is scrounging to survive in caves, Saul and the wretched Doeg are prospering in the king’s palace. The unfairness to David is infuriating.

But God is good. He is sovereign and has a plan for David’s life on earth so that David might prosper for eternity in heaven. Hardship, suffering, and pain are tools the Father uses to shape us. We should count it a privilege to suffer for his sake – especially if God works through the pain to mold us more into his righteousness.

Lazarus’ story in Luke 16 should be an encouragement to the suffering on earth. Lazarus was a poor beggar who longed for even a scrap from the rich man’s table – but in death, their roles were reversed. The rich man was in eternal torment, and Lazarus was feasting at the side of Abraham.

David understands that God will make all things right in the end. Even as he mourns the death of Ahimelech and his priests, he knows that Doeg and Saul will ultimately have to answer to God for their actions…

But God will break you down forever;
he will snatch and tear you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living.

The righteous shall see and fear,
and shall laugh at him, saying,
“See the man who would not make
God his refuge,
but trusted in the abundance of his riches
and sought refuge in his own destruction!”

But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever. (Psalm 52:5-8).

How can David write that he is “like a green olive tree” when he is starving and homeless? His faith in his God gives him an eternal perspective – and this truth sustains him through the suffering. We must cling to God’s word during suffering. His truth will see us through!

Day 108: David and his ragamuffin band

1 Samuel 22:1-5; Psalm 57; Psalm 142; Luke 15

Key Verses

Psalm 57:1
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.

Luke 15:10
“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

In today’s reading from 1 Samuel, David narrowly escaped the Philistine city of Gath and found refuge in a cave. Just think how far David has fallen… The son-in-law of the King is now living in a cave. Listen to his heart cry out to the Lord…

Attend to my cry,
for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors,
for they are too strong for me!
Bring me out of prison,
that I may give thanks to your name! (Psalm 142:6-7).

But David is not alone in the cave. On the contrary, the outcasts of society have gathered to him…

And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them (1 Samuel 22:2).

This picture of the anointed king surrounded by outcasts reminds me of Jesus. And it correlates beautifully with Jesus’ teaching found in Luke 15.

Who matters to God? The sinner who repents! God will leave 99 righteous to find one lost soul. Jesus says in Luke 15:7, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

And then he tells the well-known story of the prodigal son. You remember the story? How the younger brother squanders his inheritance and returns to his father a humbled man. The father throws him a huge party to celebrate his return while the faithful, older brother is indignant and sulks over the fact that his father never threw him a party.

How many times have you heard it asked, “Do you identify more with the older or younger brother?” That’s an interesting question since they were both sinners in need of repentance. The difference is that the older brother was blind to his self-righteous sin – whereas the younger brother was very much aware of his sin.

Another question might be, “Do you identify with the outcasts that gathered to David in the cave?” Do you know what it feels like to be in distress, in debt, or bitter in soul? I do. Jesus beckons us to come. And as we gather around the Savior, no one can stand – for we know we are sinful. We know we don’t deserve the kindness He offers. And heaven rejoices, for a sinner has repented.

Day 107: David on the Run

1 Samuel 21; Psalm 56; Psalm 34

Key Verses

Psalm 56:3-4
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?

Psalm 34:4; 18
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

David’s life has taken such a drastic turn. He is now fleeing for his life! Where does he run first? He runs to the house of the Lord. He flees to the priestly city of Nob. There he seeks provision from the priest, Ahimelech. Jesus speaks of this scene in Matthew 11 when the Pharisees accuse him and his disciples of working to glean wheat on the Sabbath…

He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 11: 3-4; 7)

Do Jesus’ words sound familiar? They are similar to Samuel’s judgment of Saul in Chapter 15…

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

David understands that compassion and mercy are more important than the ceremonial law. He ‘gets’ that his life is more important than the symbolic meaning of the bread of presence. Ahimelech, the priest, gets it too. God cares about the heart – not outward conformity.

We can see into the heart of David by reading Psalms 56 & 34. Both of these Psalms were written in response to David’s foolish decision to go to the Philistine city, Gath. Gath was the home of Goliath! Did David really think he could find refuge there???!!! Despite David’s rash judgment, his heart remained focused on his God…

Where do you run when your life seems out of control? What do you look to for comfort? David ran straight to the house of God! God is the refuge for the humble. The broken will find rest in His presence. Seek Him in His sanctuary. He longs to cover you with His peace!

Day 106: David’s Flight

1 Samuel 18-20; Psalm 59

Key Verses

1 Samuel 18:14-15
And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him. And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him.

Psalm 59:1-3
Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
protect me from those who rise up against me;
deliver me from those who work evil,
and save me from bloodthirsty men.
For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
fierce men stir up strife against me.

For the next few days, we will read David’s poetry in the Psalms which directly relate to his circumstances recorded in 1 Samuel. Today’s reading in 1 Samuel continues with tales of David’s success in battle. But David’s success arouses jealousy in Saul leading to Saul trying to kill David – multiple times – thankfully, with no success.

Many players come to David’s aid, including Saul’s own children: Jonathan and Michal (David’s closest friend and wife, respectively).  Saul pursues David and at the end of Chapter 19 is a bizarre tale of God intervening directly on David’s behalf…

And [Saul] asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” And [Saul] went there…And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night (1 Samuel 19:22-24).

The imagery is thick. Here lies Saul, the rejected king, naked before Samuel and David, God’s anointed prophet and king, respectively. Seeing Saul humbled before him, I’m sure David understood this to be a direct answer to his prayer for help recorded in Psalm 59.

Psalm 59 was written in response to an earlier scene in Chapter 19, “Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch him, that he might kill him in the morning” (1 Samuel 19:11). David opens the psalm with a prayer for help, and then he recounts God’s character and his faith is renewed.

But I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love (Psalm 59:16-17).

Over the next few days, we will see David’s circumstances go from bad to worse. We will also see his faith expressed in the Psalms become stronger. I pray we learn from David’s example!